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Danish businesses fear the worst as Johnson takes power in UK

Interest organizations representing Danish businesses have warned of the increased risk of a no-deal Brexit following Tuesday’s confirmation that Boris Johnson will be the new British prime minister.

Danish businesses fear the worst as Johnson takes power in UK
File photo: Henning Bagger / BAG / Ritzau Scanpix

Johnson will take over from Theresa May on Wednesday after winning 66 percent of the votes of around 160,000 Conservative Party members in the party’s leadership contest, thereby becoming the UK’s new leader.

He faces the task of seeing through the country’s exit from the European Union and has promised a “do or die” approach to leaving on the current scheduled date of October 31st.

READ ALSO: 'He looks like a man who slept in his car': What is the Danish media saying about Boris Johnson?

Two Danish business confederations, the Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv, DE) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) have both said the risk of a ‘no-deal’ scenario and its potential consequences for Danish companies will increase with Johnson in power.

“I must say that the selection of Boris Johnson makes it quite likely that this will all end with a hard [no-deal, ed.] Brexit. That will be expensive for the United Kingdom and the British and will most certainly also hit the profit margins of many Danish companies,” DE CEO Brian Mikkelsen said via a written comment.

“But we can, of course, hope that Boris Johnson will be a little more pragmatic when he, as the new leader, is faced by the realities (of Brexit),” Mikkelsen added.

The UK is one of Denmark’s largest export markets, meaning the impact of increased levies and paperwork on goods and services exported across the North Sea could be felt on both sales and jobs in Denmark.

That is likely to happen should the UK leave the EU without securing a trade agreement with the EU, as would be the case in a no-deal Brexit.

“We hope the UK will not leave the EU on October 31st without a deal. A so-called no-deal Brexit would be a Halloween nightmare which, unfortunately, could come true,” DI’s deputy director Peter Thagesen said in a written comment.

“The Confederation of Danish Industry is advising its members to prepare for the worst,” Thagesen added.

According to DI figures, Danish companies received 86 billion kroner for exports to the UK last year. The organization estimates that 65,000 Danish jobs are connected to UK exports.

Member comments

  1. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit does not mean one without a trade agreement. It means without a transitional period agreed upon from both sides while a trade agreement is being negiotated. At this stage, the House of Commons has rejected the transitional phase (including the fact that Northern Ireland and therefore the whole UK stays in the customs union for as long as the negotiations continue) by not accepting Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

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Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.